The World is a Book

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
– St. Augustine of Hippo

I recently read a blog with this title and was surprised to see the number of comments saying it was “elitist” and “holier than thou.” All I can say to anyone who feels that way is get off your butt. You don’t have to go far. I guarantee the very next page, just a few miles in any direction you never go, is full of life-changing surprises. But you have to step out of your bubble and get engaged.

We’re leaving for Canada tomorrow morning. The first time I went to Canada, many years ago, The Brains played a week at the old Hotel Nelson in Montreal. I’d stayed in hotel rooms without AC or a phone or television before, but that was in small-town Mexico, where you might expect that sort of thing, not in a major city. I was surprised how easy it was to adjust. The people we met on the Place Jacques Cartier were more interesting than any characters on TV. I felt like I was in a movie. This was real life. I’ve been hooked on it ever since.

On that trip a young woman introduced me to her sister, who had recently returned from India, having travelled a bit farther than she was ready for. Apparently a lot of westerners find the poverty there hard to handle. This girl had given away everything she had and disappeared. Her family hired a private detective to track her down and bring her home. Back at her parents’ house in Montreal, she was practically catatonic and at first never left her room. Then, her sister told me, she latched onto The Brains’ 45 of “Money Changes Everything” and played it day and night. That was the straw she grasped, and it brought her back. She still appeared awfully fragile the night I met her, but it seemed like she was going to make it. Ever since then I’ve tried to remember that the work we do has a life of its own and travels the world too, for good or ill.

A few years ago, when Delta Moon played the Montreal Jazz Festival, I returned to the Hotel Nelson. The room we once played was now a breakfast restaurant. I said to the woman there, “I used to play here in a rock band, but it looks different now.”

She said, “I bet you do, too.”

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